If you need to know why Norwegian Air has just been named the 'World's Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline' for the third consecutive year (and the 'Best Low-Cost Airline in Europe' for the fifth year in a row) look no further than how it disrupts the way other major airlines operate.
In May, American Airlines, rapidly becoming the nation’s choice of last resort, announced that it would yet again add more seats to planes, reducing the space between rows by one to two inches depending on where you sit. This is not much more than Spirit Airlines, but without Spirit’s steep discounts. “It’s less legroom and more uncomfortable seats,” travel blogger Gary Leff told The New York Times last month, explaining how more seats mean less padding. That’s another reason why your ass feels so sore after flying AA. And with less room to tilt your seat, your back will feel sore, too. By contrast, the seat pitch on Norwegian is a 31″-32″, about the same as Delta.
A view from Calton Hill (Photo courtesy of Visit Britain)
But the real disruption is the way Norwegian has figured out how to lower costs—such as utilizing smaller regional airports like Providence, RI, or Stewart International in New York’s Hudson Valley, where landing fees are about ten times lower than at LaGuardia in Queens. For those willing to take the new Stewart Airport Express, a direct coach service to Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan (approx. 90 minutes), or drive, the prices to fly direct to cities like Edinburgh at the height of summer are jaw-droppingly competitive.
Round trips have been promoted for as low as $300, and can still be purchased for around $500—in August. A round-trip, non-stop on American to Edinburgh or Dublin, by contrast, will set you back $1,271.
And that’s not all. Norwegian plans to launch direct flights from Newark and Los Angeles to Rome in November, as well as a twice-weekly nonstop service to Guadeloupe and Martinique from Providence’s T. F. Green Airport for those seeking some winter sun.
Naturally, the country’s flagship airlines are feeling the heat. As they continue to make money from new fees without cutting prices, Norwegian Air is offering a new alternative to passengers that are tired of getting so little in return for giving up so much. Can it last? We hope so, though airlines have been known to crush this kind of uprising before.